Our friends at Sprint offered up another mobile gem for our editorial appraisal. It’s the Sprint edition HTC 8XT Windows Phone. It’s a another mobile device powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 400 dual-core processor clocked at 1.4ghz. It’s touting 1080p video capture, a 800 x 480 Gorilla Glass display, 1gb of RAM, 8gb storage, microSD memory card slot plus radios for WiFi, Bluetooth and GPS. It’s no Galaxy S4 or HTC One, at least on paper. However, it is a snazzy little device that’s packs quite a few surprises. We’re not quite ready to tell all in an official review. Here I wanted to do another quick look at the features that have stood out for me, in the short few days I’ve had the device.
1. Design and Hands-On Feel
Mind blown! Well that’s a bit overdramatic. But I was more than usually surprised by how well the HTC 8XT feels in your hand. It’s has a soft textured back, which is rounded and very comfortable to hold. It measures 2.6 x 5.2 x .39 inches and only weighs 120 grams. This is a tiny wafer thin phone–petite…dainty, even. I like the look and feel but I can’t help but notice the femininity. It’s thinner than the Galaxy S4 yet it feels much more solid and firm when held. The GS4 has a airy plastic feel that rubs many the wrong way. The HTC 8XT is exactly opposite of this and very reminiscent to the One from HTC phone. Moving around the device we see a total of 4-physical buttons. Two comprise the volume rocker. The top button is for Power and the bottom right button is a dedicated camera access/clicker. The speakers are front facing Boom Sound with Beats Audio and the bottom-front of device is brandished with the traditional touch-sensitive buttons found on a Windows Phone. You have the Home button, back and Search (Bing).
The display, as mentioned above, is Gorilla Glass capable of 480p resolution and 1080p video capture and measures 4.3-inches. But I think it’s the weakest link in the tech chain for 8XT. Sure, the resolution is nothing to write home about. But it work very well with camera shots, video, UI graphics, games and web browsing looks well enough to compete with similarly priced devices. Yet we’ve been spoiled by Nokia’s Clear Black display tech for Windows Phone. That’s a thing a of beauty when the entire face of a phone looks like its part of the display. You don’t get that at all with the HTC 8XT. Blacks lack richness and depth. So anything that takes advantage of deep blacks will suffer a bit–not critically but–noticeably so.
The camera on the other hand, is super solid. It uses an 8mp rear camera. I appreciate the dedicated camera button for quickly pulling up the camera app. This same button can activate the auto-focus and work as a clicker for snapping shots.
The camera can shoot video and still photos simultaneously, features multishot burst mode for herding a ton of similar shot to choose from and generally takes appealing amateur shot in low and bright-light settings. I have not taken any pics with the front facing camera at the time of this writing.
4. Boom Sound Speakers
Beats Audio makes another high performing appearance in an HTC device. The HTC 8XT features another similar set of front facing speakers. Albeit, the grille in front looks a lot different than what used on the HTC One. The bottom and top speaker use a singe slot or slit with the top being longer than the bottom. They sound fantastic for audio on a mobile device. But my naked ear reports, the One produces a more canorous result.
5. Hard Drive Storage Juggling
The hard drive is another pet peeve of mine. I’m no mobile packrat and know not to keep much on my devices. As a journalist juggling many mobile units at once, you train yourself well in the art of storage efficiency. But real consumers will struggle with a mere 8gb. What goes in the cloud? What stays on your device..? Oh fun times!
The chargeable power source is a 1800 mAh Li-ion Polymer battery. On stanby and snoring asleep, the HTC 8XT shows impressive stamina. But continuous general use where you’re surfing the net, watching a few short youtube videos, playing with the camera, downloading apps, running GPS directions and such will kill your phone dead in less than 5.5 hours. That’s not much at all for such a consumer-oriented phone hoping to make it as a mainstream mainstay.
That’s for now. Obviously, we’ll go into more detail on the full review. But for now this particular HTC 8XT is available for $99 from Sprint with a subscription.